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Zelle scam on the rise

Zelle is a peer-to-peer payment app that makes it easy to transfer money. However, it’s also a way for scammers to defraud you. Welcome to the Zelle scam.

A US-based digital payments network, Zelle is owned by Early Warning Services, LLC, a private financial services provider owned by Bank of America, Trust, Capital One, and other US banks. Ironically, these banks claim that sending and receiving money is safe, fast, and accessible.

Nevertheless, it seems every week there is a new Zelle scam. 

How the scam works

Someone contacts a customer saying they are from their bank. Often, it begins with fake emails, messages, or DMs. Typically, the caller ID is the same as the individual’s bank. The usual news is that fraud is occurring in the account. 

The fake rep asks the user to confirm a large, fake Zelle payment. When the user replies that they didn’t authorize the transfer, the scammer follows up with a phone call. They walk the user through fake instructions on how to fix the issue. In the meantime, the user’s money is going to the scammer’s account. 

It happened to a woman in Boston. She received an urgent text that appeared to come from her bank. For that reason, she gave her account information to the wannabe customer service agent. Consequently, within minutes, $3,0000 was transferred out of her account through a Zelle transfer. 

Unlike credit cards, where you can stop a fraudulent payment, there’s little fraud protection against a Zelle scam.

Watch out for these Yelle scam red flags:

  • The person contacting you about a problem with your bank account is pushy or aggressive.
  • They insist there’s no other way to fix the problem.
  • Only their instructions will fix the problem.

For more information on how to protect yourself, see Scam Spotter.

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